And Bruno might be onto something.
Vitter's problem is that he painted himself so far into a corner over the years with his denials and hard-line social conservative stances that his credibility has been destroyed. Even high-level state Republicans seemed to acknowledge that fact; consider what major GOP fund-raiser and New Orleanian Boysie Bollinger told reporter John Hill: "We had discussed the exact fact that this bomb could go off any time in the campaign, and it did not," said Bollinger. That's hardly a vigorous defense or the way a friend tries to help someone get the wind back in his sails ' leaving him twisting in the wind is more like it.
The lack of Republican support for Vitter through most of last week was palpable. For three days, there was conspicuous silence from some of the state's top Republicans, including party Chairman Roger Villere and gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal. Finally, last Friday marked a concerted effort by the state Republican Party to circle the wagons and muster some defense for the embattled senator. A number of Republican officials ' including Secretary of State Jay Dardenne, U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery of Shreveport and U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany of Lafayette ' issued non-committal, cautious statements. "David and his family are going through a difficult time, and my thoughts and prayers are with him," said Boustany.
Vitter received stronger backing from the Lafayette Parish Republican Executive Committee. "Senator Vitter has handled his error properly and courageously," said Chairman Mark Gremillion in a statement. "It is the consensus of the Republican Parish Executive Committee that Senator Vitter should continue to serve his constituents of the State of Louisiana."
Politically, the timing is especially damaging for Vitter. While he isn't up for Senate re-election until 2010, his star had been rising in the Republican Party of late thanks to his leadership role in the Republican revolt to defeat President Bush's immigration bill. And Vitter was widely speculated to be angling for the VP slot should former New York mayor Rudy Guiliani win the Republican Party's presidential nomination. Vitter's already angered social conservatives in Louisiana by endorsing the pro-gay rights and pro-choice Giuliani, so his affair revelations are sure to cut into the 42 percent of the Acadiana vote he received in his 2004 win over former U.S. Rep. Chris John.
As a barometer of Vitter's current standing with social conservatives, The Christian Conservatives for Reform, a Metairie-based organization that has long supported Vitter, is joining Bruno in calling for Vitter's resignation. The Rev. Grant Storms, who heads the organization, told the Associated Press, "When Bill Clinton fell ... we said 'resign,' when William Jefferson was indicted we said 'resign.' Now it's one of our people, and we need to be consistent and say, 'David, do the right thing and resign.'"
The once-powerful Louisiana senator finds himself political kryptonite for fellow Republicans. And no one has as much at stake in the Vitter fallout as gubernatorial candidate/U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal. Vitter and Jindal have been close allies since 2003, endorsing each other in every race they've run since then. In February 2007, Jindal issued this statement, which was prominently featured on his Web site:
"I wanted to share some great news with you. This morning, U.S. Senator David Vitter declared his support for our campaign for Governor. David has been a strong leader for our state. It means a lot to have his support at this crucial time.
"David knows all too well that we need strong leadership in Louisiana," continued Jindal. "I have been working closely with David in Washington, D.C. to ensure that our state has all of the resources it needs to move forward. But unless we have strong leadership making the critical decisions on the ground in Louisiana, our state will be unable to advance and compete with other states. ... I am committed to moving our state forward, and I look forward to continuing to work with David to address the real issues facing Louisiana."
Last week, Jindal's Web site was scrubbed clean of every reference to Vitter, including his endorsement. Jindal waited until Friday night to offer a tepid statement regarding Vitter:
"While we are disappointed by Sen. Vitter's actions, Supriya and I continue to keep David and his family in our prayers," Jindal said, referring to his wife. "This is a matter for the senator to address, and it is our hope that this is not used by others for their own political gain."
It won't be easy for Jindal or Vitter to sidestep further questions about Vitter's indiscretions. The senator went into hiding last week and remained silent after his initial statement, while allegations surfaced from the New Orleans madam ' as well as detailed accounts of a woman claiming to be prostitute Wendy Cortez, who gave The Times-Picayune a lengthy, detailed accounting of her relationship with Vitter. (At press time Monday, Vitter made his first public appearance since the scandal broke, saying the New Orleans allegations weren't true. He declined to answer questions from the media.)
Ultimately, Vitter has only one question to answer: will he put party loyalty over family loyalty? Is he willing to put his wife and four school-age children through three more years of uncomfortable questions and media headlines? If he doesn't resign, he'll likely be relegated to a role outside of the spotlight with no legislative pull, dutifully serving out a painful and dull political exile. That doesn't sound like David Vitter.
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, April 23, 2014:
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.
State Rep. Stuart Bishop says he’s concerned with the quality of Capitol Lake, but when it comes to Louisiana’s coastline, this Lafayette Republican doesn't seem to give a damn.
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
Louisiana lawmakers are entering the second half of their three-month regular legislative session, which must end by June 2. Where some of the major issues stand:
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”